[visionlist] Variability is vision versus audition in data display

Oberfeld-Twistel, Daniel oberfeld at uni-mainz.de
Mon Mar 11 10:18:32 -04 2019

Hi John,

due to the circular structure of musical pitch (the same "pitch class" is perceived when you go one octave up or down), I could indeed imagine that pitch is not ideal for representing "size".

Why not simply code larger values by louder sounds? Listeners can make precise intensity judgments, there is no ambiguity involved, and we know a lot about the psychophysical relation between sound pressure (and other sound characteristics) and loudness.



Dr. Daniel Oberfeld-Twistel
Associate Professor
Johannes Gutenberg - Universitaet Mainz
Institute of Psychology
Experimental Psychology
Wallstrasse 3
55122 Mainz

Phone ++49 (0) 6131 39 39274
Fax   ++49 (0) 6131 39 39268

From: visionlist <visionlist-bounces at visionscience.com> On Behalf Of John Neuhoff
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2019 5:21 AM
To: visionlist at visionscience.com
Subject: [visionlist] Variability is vision versus audition in data display

It seems almost a truism that there is greater variability among individuals in the perception of sonified versus visualized data sets. Yet, finding empirical studies to support this idea appears to be a challenge. For example, when representing data visually, larger data values are often represented with increasing vertical extent (e.g., taller bars in a bar graph).  In most cases observers have almost unanimous agreement on which bar is higher. In audition the same data can be represented in the domain of musical pitch.  High pitch can be used to represent large data values and low pitch can be used to represent small data values. However, there is greater disagreement among listeners in the case of sonification and the data value specified by pitch. In fact, listeners without musical training often are confused by the terms "high" and "low" as they pertain to musical pitch (Neuhoff, Knight, & Wayand, 2002).

I would be grateful to learn of other examples of greater perceptual variability in the auditon versus vision, particulary as it pertains to data representation.


-John Neuhoff

John G. Neuhoff
Department of Psychology
The College of Wooster
Chair, Auditory Perception & Cognition Society
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